The evolution of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip over the 2006-2007 season was fascinating not only to me but to the press and bloggers as well. What began in September as a show about the inner-workings of a sketch comedy series slowly turned into a screwball comedy before settling into a politically-tinged melodrama. By the end of its run, this heavily marketed critical darling could barely be found on NBC’s schedule. (With minimal fanfare, NBC burned off the last six episodes after May sweeps.) What began as the focal point of the show – the politics of making late-night television – was all but forgotten by the last five episodes. Instead, viewers suddenly found themselves transported to a West Wing-style clone. (Studio 60’s creator, Aaron Sorkin, created both The West Wing and Studio 60.) Suddenly the show shifted its focus to two unrelated stories: the kidnapping of sketch comedy star Tom Jeter’s (Nate Corrdry) soldier brother in Afghanistan and a chronicle of how Studio 60's new head writer Matt (Matthew Perry) and producer Danny (Bradley Whitford) lost their jobs on the show five years earlier. Through a series of flashbacks, we discover that only weeks after the September 11th attacks, Matt and Danny decided to go against the advice of network executives and air a sketch critical of the Bush Administration. The conflict over the sketch ultimately led to their departure from the show. Cumulatively these two narrative threads provide a platform upon which to debate such issues as the nature of patriotism, the status of free speech in America, and the questionable motives of the Bush administration. The flashback sequence that accompanies this piece – which takes place following the dress rehearsal but before the sketch airs – illustrates many of these issues.